My smart phone broke in a bakery the other day, but instead of being upset about the situation, I sighed in relief. It’s funny, the timing worked so perfectly because I had spent the previous hour researching good cameras online. I vowed to get a flip phone back in the U.S. and just use a camera to document my travels. And then this happened - I can’t afford a new phone, a contract when I get back to the states, and I don’t want to feel connected all the time. I don’t want to be distracted when I am hanging out with my friends - scrolling through newsfeeds, instagrams, looking at mindless bullshit while hearing a conversation, not listening. I see it everywhere.
Aside from pulling a person away from the present, for me at least, it also creates this narcissistic desire to feel loved, liked, and to feel validation for what I’m doing. It’s shallow.
It’s because I’ve been raised this way. It’s engrained in my mind. Do well in school? Pat on the back. Do well in soccer? Parents and coaches love you. Team members want to be you. Desire for fame, perfection, and praise - all decadent. Why is it like this today?
Why do we want to be famous? Why do we want to be movie stars? Professional athletes? Headlined in the newspaper? Why? WHY, god damnit, Why?
I am guilty. I crave these desires. I want to feel loved. I want to be loved, but in the most shallow way. Before, it was beauty. I would look at magazines of the Victoria Secret girls and wish, hope that I could be beautiful like them, then maybe a would find the right guy for me. I grew up in Orange County, a place where beauty is above all. I didn’t have boyfriends in high school - I barely had any friends. All of the boys would turn their attention to my childhood best friend, and I always felt like an outsider, jealous.
My best friend, Gena, taught me to love myself, to feel ok in my body, to embrace each day, and to stop dwelling on wanting something else. I thought I was in the clear. I felt good. I went to college, worked part-time, exercised regularly and ate healthy. I was happy with my life and my decisions. At one point I thought to myself, life can be pretty damn easy.
A few years have passed since this epiphany and now I’m struggling to find how life is really that easy all the time, how it was that easy. Media, social media, social pressures - it is even more abundant today than it was 5 years ago when I was drooling over magazines.
And just as present in the climbing community. Instead of wanting to look like someone else, I fantasize about climbing just as hard or harder than people I know. I wonder what a life in those peoples shoes would like. Everyday, facebook and instagram yield thousands of cliche posts with pictures of people climbing about ‘living the dream,’ ‘follow your passion,’ ‘live for yourself.’ Like everyday is some grand epiphany! And people eat it out of the palm of your hand. 200 Likes, 30 comments of how much of a badass you are.
But really, it’s not that glamorous. I am upset because I am a part of it - I have been a part of it. I am, too, another dirtbag in an alternative lifestyle. We want to be so unique, so different. Like living in my van and traveling across the West is so unique...It’s so not.
And when things aren’t perfect in my life, I question what I’m doing wrong. Why do people like that person so much? There’s nothing special about them. Why is this person getting a sponsorship? They don’t even climb hard. Why can’t I get sponsored?
Climbing has impacted my life in so many positive ways, especially with the incredible people I have met, but it has also made me sick. I am green with jealousy and envy. I want to do these things, to prove to others and myself I can to do them, to gain notoriety, to feel accepted into a community, to feel loved.
It’s so shallow. I’ve been fooling myself for the past two years, but not anymore.
This thing, media - it’s a disease. It’s not going away. With each day, we are becoming more and more connected. With a smartphone, you get service almost anywhere, and you get facebook messages on long routes in the Sierra or in Yosemite.
I don’t want to live like this. I don’t want to be envious of my friends - I want to support them. I don’t want to wish I was someone else - I want to be me. I want to take a stand for myself, and stop wanting something else. I want to free climb the Salathe Wall because it looks fucking rad, not because it will be a ‘badass’ tick. I want to climb big walls because they’re inspiring, beautiful, and in remote locations, not because I think people will be impressed. Deep down, I know this, but sometimes my mind is so clouded with sensory overload that my motives become an illusion to how I feel - jealous and envious.
This is a stream of conscious I wrote the other day after I decided that buying a camera was worth it if I didn’t want a smartphone anymore. I write because I love writing, I always have. And using this blog is a share to share how I feel with the world and I know sometimes people will relate and other times, not. That’s ok. And please don’t feel like this writing is any attack on your life or lifestyle. I have just found that social media has been more of a burden on me than anything else. Thank you!